ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — New Jersey horsemen could get millions of dollars in damages after a federal appeals court ruled that the horsemen were financially harmed while the legality of sports betting was being litigated.
In a ruling Tuesday, the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals said that the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, representing owners and trainers, is entitled to damages.
The association has sought the payment, with interest, of a $3.4 million bond that the four major pro sports leagues and the NCAA posted in 2014. It was intended to secure losses that might be suffered during the month that a restraining order was in effect, prohibiting the horsemen from offering sports betting at Monmouth Park Racetrack.
A lower court ruled against them, but the appeals court reversed that ruling, kicking the case back to U.S. District Court in New Jersey to determine the appropriate amount of damages.
“It’s good to get a victory,” said Dennis Drazin, chairman and CEO of Darby Development, which runs Monmouth Park. “The lower court said we weren’t entitled to damages, but the appeals court said we clearly are.”
New Jersey ultimately won a U.S. Supreme Court case last May year clearing the way for legal sports betting in all 50 states.
The horsemen also are seeking economic damages over not being able to offer sports betting from the time the restraining order expired in Oct. 2014 until the Supreme Court ruling in an amount Drazin estimated at $150 million.
That amount was not covered in Tuesday’s ruling. When the association returns to court, it will seek to prove it should receive the $3.4 million from the bond.
But it also will seek extended damages, intending to argue that the leagues acted in bad faith, something the leagues have denied in previous court filings.
No hearing date has yet been set.